Japan sees 27 percent increase in number of refugees

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Japan sees 27 percent increase in number of refugees

Pyae Lyan Aung, a member of the Myanmar national soccer team, who was recognized as a refugee in 2021, attends a protest against the coup in Myanmar held in front of the Foreign Ministry in February. The Immigration Services Agency announced on May 13 that the number of refugees represented an increase of 27 from the previous year.

In addition, 580 foreign nationals were granted special permission to stay in Japan out of humanitarian consideration, although they were not recognized as refugees. The 44 granted special permission to remain in Japan in 2020 for humanitarian reasons, which was contrasted with the 44 allowed by the figure.

32 of those recognized as refugees were from Myanmar. The agency officials said 18 came from China and nine from Afghanistan.

Individuals from Myanmar comprised the bulk of those who were given special permission to remain in Japan for humanitarian reasons. 580 were granted special permission, but 525 were granted that status due to the situation in their homeland. Of that number, 498, or more than 90 percent, were from Myanmar.

In 2021, 2,413 people applied for refugee status, a 40 percent decrease from the previous year, according to agency officials. Entry restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus resulted in a reduction in the number of foreign nationals visiting Japan.

The conditions for obtaining permanent resident status are relaxed for those who are recognized as refugees for five years and the conditions for obtaining long-term resident status are also relaxed.

Over the 40 years since Japan began recognizing refugees, only 915 people have been recognized as refugees out of the 87,892 who applied.

Japan has had a lot of criticism for its strict interpretation of the refugees convention, which accounts for the vastly smaller number of recognized refugees in comparison to Western nations.